Only a little talking was allowed throughout the meal, but at its conclusion the cadets were given an hour off, in which time they could do very much as they pleased. In that hour some played games, others took walks, and not a few drifted over to the gymnasium, which stood at one corner of the grounds.
“I’m going over to the gym,” said Dick to Larry Colby. “Want to go along?”
“Certainly,” was the prompt answer. “I am going in for gymnastics this term, Dick.”
“Want to win some of the prizes when we have our contests?”
“If I can.”
“I don’t see why you shouldn’t, Larry. You seem to be in first-class shape physically.”
“I am going to try hard, Dick.”
They were soon in the building, and Larry slipped off to the dressing room to don his gymnasium suit.
While Dick was waiting for his friend to reappear he looked on at the efforts of the other cadets present. Some were on the rings and bars, others were using the parallel bars and horses, and still others were at the pulling and lifting machines. In one corner two of the boys were boxing, while another was hammering a punching bag as hard as he could.
The boy at the punching bag was a tall, big-boned youth, named Lew Flapp. He was a newcomer at Putnam Hall, but though he had been there but three weeks he acted as if half of the place already belonged to him. At the start, he had made a few friends, principally on account of the money he had to spend, but these were gradually deserting him.
Dick was interested in the work on the punching bag, and he walked closer to note what Lew Flapp was doing. Clap! clap! clap! went Flapp’s fists on the bag, which bounced back and forth with great rapidity.
“Well, how do you like that?” asked Lew Flapp, as he paused in his exercise and stared at Dick.
“It’s all right,” answered Dick briefly.
“I’ll bet there ain’t another cadet here can do as well,” went on Lew Flapp boastfully.
“Oh, that’s saying a good deal,” said Dick. “Some of the boys can hit the bag pretty well.”
“Humph!” Lew Flapp stared at the eldest Rover harder than ever. “Perhaps you think you can do it,” he sneered.
“I didn’t say that.”
“But your words implied it.”
“Dick Rover can do every bit as well,” said a cadet who overheard the talk.
“I want to see him do it.”
“I didn’t come here to punch the bag,” said Dick as calmly as ever. “I just thought I’d take a look around.”
“Humph! Afraid to try, eh?”
“I dare you to show what you can do,” sneered Lew Flapp.
“Very well, I’ll show you,” came from Dick, and he began to take off his coat, collar, and tie.
A SCENE IN THE GYMNASIUM
Lew Flapp spoke in such a loud, overbearing voice that a crowd began to collect in the corner where the punching apparatus was located.